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There is a reason why canoes come in so many shapes. What may appear to be subtle differences in hull design can have dramatic effects on handling. One design is rarely better than another; rather, different designs will excel under different conditions.

It is worth noting that some designs are more general-purpose than others.  Our Quetico line is a good example of a general-purpose design. A Quetico 16 is well suited to solo paddling, tandem day-trips, and  short canoe trips.  Our Tranquility, on the other hand, is a superb solo canoe, but it simply is not built for tandem use. Likewise, our Wilderness 18 is an aggressive tripping canoe, but it is not suited to occasional solo paddling. 

What does this mean when choosing your canoe? You should choose a canoe for those activities you will do most often. Whether you choose a general-purpose canoe or a more specific design depends on whether you want to use that same canoe for those activities you only do occasionally.`



  1. All else being equal, a longer canoe will travel faster than a shorter one.

  2. A longer canoe will also track straighter, but it will also be harder to turn. (There are other factors that affect manoeuvrability – see "rocker.")

  3. A longer canoe will be heavier (but often by less than you might expect).

  4. A longer canoe will generally hold more gear than a shorter one. (The height of the sides and fullness of the hull are also factors.)

  5. A longer canoe is more stable than a shorter canoe of the same design. (A Quetico 17 will feel more stable than a Quetico 16.)


Rocker refers to the shape of the bottom of the hull when viewed end-to-end. A canoe with no rocker is straight along the bottom. A canoe with rocker will have the ends raised up relative to the centre. All our canoes have at least some rocker, giving them the manoeuvrability you require in most paddling situations.

  1. A canoe with little or no rocker will track straighter. Conversely, canoes like our Prospectors and Skeena, with a lot of rocker, will turn well but track poorly.

  2. A longer canoe with more rocker will steer more like a shorter canoe.
    So, even though it's a little longer, our Prospector 17.5 will turn more easily than a Quetico 17.

  3. Rocker has little or no effect on speed.

Flare /


Flare and tumblehome refer to the shape of the side of the hull above the waterline.  A canoe with tumblehome curve in at the sides. A canoe with flare widens-out near the gunwales.

  1. Tumblehome allows one to keep the paddle closer to the hull, and gives the canoe a traditional look.

  2. Flare helps deflect waves when paddling in big water.

Entry Lines

Entry lines affect the speed and handling of a canoe.


  1. Straight vertical entry lines, like our Wilderness 18, cut through the water well and improve a canoe's speed.

  2. A flare at the waterline, like our Quetico, Skeena, Tranquility and Prospector lines, push the canoe up when encountering waves, allowing it to ride big water better (and keep you dryer) but at the cost of a little speed.

  3. A fine entry line cuts through the water better, resulting in a faster canoe with better tracking. A more blunt entry line has better impact-resistance.

Flat Bottom / 


A flat-bottom canoe is, well, flat. A shallow-arched hull is rounder or slightly vee shaped at the bottom.

  1. A flat-bottom canoe is highly stable when entering or exiting, when the canoe is not in motion, and on calmer waters. It is a good general-purpose hull shape, and ideal for fishing, travelling with dogs, or carrying children. Our Quetico series are flat-bottomed, giving them a lot of stability.

  2. A shallow-arch bottom will feel less stable when entering or exiting, and on flat water, as it will tip slightly from side to side. This effect is reduced when the canoe is in motion.  A shallow-arched canoe may be slightly faster, as there is less surface area in the water for the same weight. It will also be more stable in very rough water, as more hull will remain in the water relative to a flat-bottomed canoe (but remember, most of us will be off the water by the time this becomes a real factor). Our Prospectors and Skeena have a shallow arch, sacrificing stability for manoeuvrability.


Fullness refers not only to how wide a canoe is, but also to how quickly it widens-out.

  1. A canoe that widens-out quickly will have higher capacity.

  2. A canoe that widens-out quickly will be slower, but more stable.

  3. A canoe that widens-out quickly will be more bouyant in big waves.

  4. A sleek canoe that widens-out more gradually will have less volume, and tend to cut through the waves rather than ride-up on them.

  5. A sleek canoe that widens-out more gradually will be faster but less stable.

The following table shows how our canoes compare relative to the above design features.
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